The best way to get your message across to a politician is to meet them face-to-face. Every MP holds a regular ‘surgery’ in their constituency, often on a weekly basis – check your local paper for details, phone your local council or your MP in the House of Commons on 020 7219 3000.
If you don’t know your MP’s name call the public information office on 020 7219 4272 and they will identify him for you from your address, or click here.
GOLDEN RULES OF LOBBYING
- Phone for an appointment at the surgery.
- Write to your MP first, briefly stating the points you will raise and who will be coming.
- Be confident, plain and straightforward and don’t use your visit to threaten the MP – it will guarantee a loss of sympathy.
- Always start by thanking the MP for making the appointment.
- Careful planning is the key to successful lobbying. Settle on three or four main points and leave most of the details to arise from questions the MP asks.
- Leave a piece of prepared information. Say that you would appreciate the opportunity of a further meeting should any other important issues arise.
- If there are any important local BASC or club functions, send the MP an invitation – the gesture will be appreciated. Regular contact is an important factor in lobbying.
- If the MP promises to write on your behalf to a minister or someone else, let a respectable period elapse, then write asking if there has been any reply.
WHAT TO SAY
You will be visiting your MP to tell them about shooters’ concerns for the future of the sport, and that you are interested to know where your MP stands on the matter.
- Tell the member what kind of shooting you do
- If they are not familiar with it, explain briefly and invite them along to find out more
- If you are a member of a club say which one
- Tell them why you enjoy shooting and how responsible a sport it is
- Tell the member about the conservation benefits of the sport
- Tell them about any wildlife habitat management you have done
- If there are questions you cannot answer, please ask BASC to help you, and tell the member you will get back to them
- Remember that you are an ambassador for your sport, so use your charm.
CONTACTING YOUR MP BY LETTER
While there is no substitute for a face-to-face interview with your MP, a personal letter can be effective is a visit is impractical.
Much of the advice on meeting your member will also apply when writing to them. Be careful to use your own words and draw upon your own personal experience. If MPs think they are being contacted on a round robin this will blunt the message you are trying to get across.
KEEPING BASC INFORMED
If you write to your MP or meet them, make a point of copying the correspondence or sending the details to BASC, Marford Mill, Rossett, Wrexham LL12 0HL, telephone 01244 573031, or email. This information will help the Association in its day-to-day contact with parliamentarians.
Contacting your MP
MPs can influence the future of our sport. Many MPs shoot or are sympathetic to shooting, others have no declared position but even those who are anti have an obligation to represent you and raise your concerns.
If you don’t know who your MP is or their contact details click here. If you don’t know your MP’s name it will find it for you by post-code or constituency. You can also search under name. Click on the “search” button and the page will give you the telephone number, address and email (if the MP has one).
The best way to contact your MP is by writing your own letter. It is often said that each letter an MP receives represents 80 voters who didn’t find the time to write and is considered to be worth 20 emails – because sending emails is so much easier than writing.
If you really can’t bring yourself to write send an email. Some MPs don’t publish an address and many are inundated with emails. You are less likely to get a reply or any action by this method. If you do email your MP the same rules apply as for a letter but there’s a limit of 4000 characters on the form so you will have to keep the message shorter than in a letter.
If it’s urgent, it’s worth considering phoning your MP, but this is the least effective way to make contact. The published number will often be that of the assistant and not the MP. Parliamentary staff often work under pressure in crowded and busy offices. It’s easy for messages left for an MP to go missing or not be acted on.
If writing to your MP regarding issues such as the Firearms Controls Consultation, explain your concerns and point out that the Labour Party has a manifesto commitment ‘not to restrict shooting sports’.
Remember that each letter you send can do shooting a power of good.
TIPS FOR THE LETTER
- Keep it short, long letters are less likely to be read, one side of A4 is plenty.
- Use your own words – standard letters are less impressive.
- Be polite and constructive – it’s easier for an MP to dismiss the rude and negative
- Start by saying that you are a constituent, a member of BASC, explain what shooting you do (wildfowling, rough shooting, deer stalking etc.) and why its important to you
- Use BASC briefing notes and choose the points you wish to make in the body of the letter.
- Ask the MP to do something – such as writing to the responsible Government Minister, asking a parliamentary question or tabling an Early Day Motion. By convention all letters referred to a Minister receive a reply which will be sent to you.
- Thank the MP for helping you before signing off.
- Send a copy of the letter and any reply to BASC to keep us informed.